Health: Parents May Not Recognize Obesity in Their Own Children

Health: Parents May Not Recognize Obesity in Their Own Children

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education Update

Here's one of many reasons that childhood obesity has become pervasive in our society. While parents are aware that obesity is a problem, a high percentage do not acknowledge the problem in their own children.

U. of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital Survey
A national poll conducted by the U. of Michigan Children's Hospital found that only 10 percent of parents with obese children were "very concerned" about their child's weight. In fact, 40 percent completely denied that problem existed, stating that their children were at "about the right weight." The children involved in this poll were from ages 6 to 11.

The Consumer Reports Survey
A Consumer Reports magazine survey reinforced these findings. Involving 609 parents of children ages 5 to 17, nine out of ten acknowledged that childhood obesity is a problem.

However, among the 19 percent with overweight or obese children (based on BMI readings), only 4% acknowledged that their children were at risk. The rest believed their overweight children were at an ideal weight.

These results may be an indication that the perception of what is overweight has changed -- possibly because a higher percentage of the population, including these parents -- are overweight as well.

But here lies the problem. Without parental support, it will be difficult to make changes in childrens' nutritional and exercise habits. Physical educators hoping to make an improvement in childhood obesity levels may have to begin by educating the parents.


1. Reported by Joe Taylor in "Many parents are blind to their own kids' obesity." Active Living, September 2007.

2. What, my child overweight? Recognizing obesity when it hits close to home." Consumer Reports Blog, January 23, 2008.

3. Pricilla Lea, Obesity: Childhood Obesity Solution: The Ultimate Parents Guide For Helping Children Live Healthy, Kindle Edition, Four J's Publishing, 2014.

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© 2008, Physical Education Update,